Legal and regulatory updates

The recently published report on the evaluation of the ESUG, the German law to facilitate the restructuring of companies, states that the changes introduced by the ESUG have been received positively overall, but that there is still room for improvement in many areas. Should the EU Restructuring Directive actually be adopted at the beginning of 2019, the legislator would have the opportunity to improve the ESUG legislation and implement the EU requirements for pre-insolvency restructuring proceedings in one bill. This would give the legislator the opportunity to further increase the global competitiveness of the German insolvency code and thereby strengthen the German market as such. Continue Reading Evaluation of the ESUG – essentially a success!?

 

In July 2017, we wrote about the case of Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd v Forge Group Power Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (receivers and managers appointed)[1], in which the Western Australian Supreme Court held that rights of set off enjoyed by an insolvent company’s contractual counterparties would not apply if the company had granted a security interest over the relevant contractual rights under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (PPSA).

The decision has been overturned by the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia[2], such that the existence of a security interest will not necessarily of itself preclude the operation of statutory or contractual set off rights in favour of third parties.

The decision is significant because it potentially has a dramatic impact on the competing rights of secured and unsecured creditors in liquidation, and may prevent secured creditors from enjoying a windfall at the expense of unsecured creditors. It also places the emphasis firmly on the terms of the relevant security interest and underlying contract, which will now need to be considered in detail each time there is a claim for set off by the insolvent company’s contractual counterparties.

[1]               [2017] WASC (2 June 2017)

[2]               Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd v Forge Power Group Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (receivers and managers appointed) [2018] WASC 163

 

Continue Reading Court of Appeal overturns Hamersley Iron v. Forge Group Power – set off rights in liquidation restored

Nearly a year ago, the Italian Parliament passed Law 155/2017 giving the Government twelve months to adopt a root and branch reform of the rules governing business distress and insolvency procedures, taking into account European legislation (EU Regulation 2015/848, Commission Recommendation 2014/135) and the principles of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.  On 11 October 2018 the Italian Government issued the long-awaited draft of the legislative decree establishing the new Code for Distress and Insolvency (Codice della crisi d’impresa e dell’insovenza, the “New Code“).

The demise of insolvency?

At the heart of the New Code is the concept that the notion of “bankruptcy” (fallimento) is a thing of the past, to be replaced by “judicial liquidation” (liquidazione giudiziale), which becomes the last resort, available only when the debtor has failed to propose any other suitable solution. Seeking to ensure the best interest and satisfaction of creditors, the New Code prioritises procedures aimed at overcoming the crisis by keeping the business as a going concern (even if under new ownership).

Continue Reading Business Restructuring and Insolvency in Italy – a revolution in the making?

US federal banking regulations that go into effect next year require certain major financial institutions to ensure that their qualified financial contracts (QFCs), such as swaps and repurchase agreements, are subject to temporary or permanent limitations on counterparties’ legal abilities to exercise default rights in the event that the financial institution becomes subject to a resolution regime as a result of financial distress, such as that which may result from capital or liquidity problems.

In lieu of requiring each QFC to be amended on a bilateral basis to comply with the new federal regulations, covered financial institutions are allowed a regulatory “safe harbor,” allowing counterparties to QFCs to adhere to a uniform protocol that would have the effect of amending each QFC. Such protocols would override QFC participants’ usual contractual rights to exercise default rights as a result of a bankruptcy or insolvency event and would also override the exceptions to the US Bankruptcy Code’s and Federal Deposit Insurance Act’s automatic stays.  This summer, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) introduced the ISDA 2018 U.S. Resolution Stay Protocol (the US Stay Protocol), and in the coming months, swap participants, including funds and commercial end users, may be asked by their bank counterparties to adhere to this protocol via the ISDA website.  Click here to read our full bulletin on this significant development.

A recent High Court case (Fairhold Securitisation Limited v Clifden IOM No 1 Ltd) has affirmed that in debt issuances involving a trustee, noteholders have only limited rights to take direct enforcement action.  The case confirmed that:

  • trustees do not need to act on holders’ instructions until holdings have been verified;
  • on receipt of instructions, a trustee is not bound to act until it has had a reasonable time to verify holdings, review instructions, take advice and obtain satisfactory indemnification;
  • where a trustee holding a floating charge is obliged to take enforcement action, its failure to do so does not entitle noteholders to step into the shoes of the trustee and appoint administrators.

Continue Reading When the shoe does not fit: direct action clauses – can investors step into the Trustee’s shoes to enforce?

Substantial reforms to Regulation (EC) 1346/2000 on insolvency proceedings were made under Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (recast) (the “Recast Insolvency Regulation“).  The Recast Insolvency Regulation applies to insolvency proceedings commenced on or after 26 June 2017.   Following changes to the insolvency laws in a number of Member States, the European Commission has adopted new Annexes A and B, which contain the details of the insolvency proceedings and insolvency practitioners falling within the scope of the Recast Insolvency Regulation. Continue Reading Adoption of new Annexes A and B to the Recast Insolvency Regulation

The European regulation of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (the “Insolvency Regulation”) came into force a year ago, significantly modifying European insolvency law. An ordinance published in November 2017 started the process of adapting French law to reflect the requirements of the Insolvency Regulation. A decree of 5 June 2018 (the “Decree”) modifying the regulatory part of Book VI of the French Code de Commerce is the final piece in the jigsaw.

Continue Reading Next steps for French insolvency proceedings

On 23 May 2018, New York’s Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department (an intermediate appellate court covering a vast swath of “downstate” New York) decided Soroush v. Citimortgage, Inc.  – a closely watched case that many in the industry worried would decide the fate of “de-acceleration letters.” De-acceleration letters are commonly used by loan servicers as a tool to revive aged defaulted mortgage loans that otherwise would be in danger of becoming time-barred.

Continue Reading New York decision on use of “De-Acceleration” letters to combat statute of limitations to foreclose

Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (recast) (the “Recast Insolvency Regulation“) applies to insolvency proceedings opened after 26 June 2017. Ordinance of 2 November 2017 (the “Ordinance“) amended the French Code de commerce to reflect the Recast Insolvency Regulation by inserting a new Title IX into Book VI. Continue Reading Insolvency Proceedings: ordinance adapting the French Code de commerce to the EU Regulation of May 2015 on insolvency proceedings

On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a circuit split under the Bankruptcy Code and determined that where funds passed through financial institutions acting as payment conduits, where the ultimate transfer sought to be avoided was not the type of transaction protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, the safe harbor provisions of Bankruptcy Code Section 546(e), shielding transfers through financial institutions from avoidance actions by bankruptcy trustees, was inapplicable.

The Supreme Court found that prior circuit decisions applying the safe harbor simply because financial institutions were intermediaries in the transfer is not consistent with the language or intent of the safe harbor provisions. Continue Reading Supreme Court Narrows Scope of Safe Harbor Exception for Securities Clawbacks